Framing Terms


You don’t need a Rosetta Stone class to understand the foreign language of framing.

Here’s a crash course in understanding all of the key terminology and phrases that you’re likely to read and hear as you embark on your custom framing journey. Bon voyage!

Acid Burn

A permanent yellow and brown stain that show up on paper materials that are not Acid-free.  This is a gradual process that occurs over years.  An example would be Newspaper, over the years newspaper will yellow and become brittle from the acids in the paper.


Acid-free materials are term used for paper products that have a neutral pH level and contain no lignin or sulfur.  It is the best paper to use when looking to preserve documents, photographs, and artwork over long periods of time.


A clear plastic glazing used as a substitute for glass in framing.  This material comes with many of the same features as framing glass such U.V. protectant and has the added bonus of being flexible.  This makes Acrylic the preferred material used when shipping artwork.  There are some downsides to this material though.  One is that it is more easily scratched than glass and second its more difficult to clean.  Because it can easily scratch special cloths like micro-fiber should be used for cleaning and be done often as acrylic is prone to building a static charge making dust cling too its surface.


A bonding agent, like glue or paste, that joins two materials together.

Adhesive Coated Boards

Foamcore boards that are coated on one side that can either be heat or pressure sensitive.  These are used when something is Dry or Cold mounted and can help to keep a material flat and secured inside the frame.

Adhesive Release

A chemical solvent used to remove artwork from its mounting.

ATG Tape

An adhesive transfer tape that’s similar to double sided tape but is only the adhesive there is no “tape”.  ATG stands for Adhesive Tape Gun and dispenses the double sided adhesive with controlled placement.

Back Paper

Also called a dust cover, is paper material adhered to the backside of a finished frame.  The paper helps to keep dust and insects from finding there way inside the frame, helps with fluctuations of heat and humidity, and helps keep harmful gasses and smoke from effecting your artwork.

Beveled Edge

Is a term for when the inside opening of a mat is cut at a 40 or 45 degree angle which creates a visible exposure of the core of the mat board, usually white but can also be colored.

Bottom Weighted

Is when a mattings bottom border is wider than the top and sides.  The reason behind this concept is to fool your eyes into following what the customer or artist has decided should be the horizon line for the art.  Normally when viewing a piece of artwork your eyes will rest just slightly above the middle of a square or rectangular image, by widening the bottom mat you adjust the area your eyes will look at first in the image.

Canvas Floater Frame

A type of frame most often used with Gallery wrapped canvas.  This type of frame allows for the entire front surface to be visible with a small gap between the frame and artwork. In this gap any image printed or painted on the sides of the canvas can be visible in the “float” space.


A term used to describe the parts and pieces used in a picture frame.  This includes things like the glazing, mat board, and mounting boards.

Conservation Framing

A type of framing that keeps the artwork as unaltered as possible while using preservation materials to keep the artwork from being damaged overtime.


With Matboard the center “core” is sandwiched between the face paper, or top color, and the backing paper.  Some mats will have a white or black core; high end rag mats have are the same material all the way through making it a solid color.

Cotton Rag Paper

A high-quality paper made from cotton fibers and hold pigment and inks better than most wood based papers.

Double Mat

Consisting of two mat boards, a top and a bottom.  The bottom mat sits around the artwork while the top sits on bottom matting with a slightly larger opening, this reveals a small portion of the bottom matting and creates an inner border.


Artwork is laid over a piece of heat activated foam core inside of the Drymount press.  When activated the press removes all air from inside and press the artwork down to the foam core insuring a flat .  The temperature inside the press is raised and the adhesive on the foam core activates and bonds the artwork to the board.


A gradual change in the color of the paper, usually from exposure to light over time.


These thin decorative pieces that resemble a small frame moulding are usually placed on the inside edge of frames or under matting to add a decorative edge.

Float Mount

A technique where the artwork is left on top of a solid piece of mat or foam core giving the appearance that the artwork is “floating” within the frame.  Pieces of matting or foam core that are smaller than the artwork can be set underneath to give it a more raised look and create a drop shadow that helps to give it a more dramatic look.

Foam Core

A light weight stiff foam material that is sandwiched between two sheets of clay coated paper and commonly come in White, Black, and Acid-Free varieties.

Gallery Wrap

A modern style of wrapping a canvas on deep bars of 1 1/2” to 2 1/2” with some of the image overlapping and showing on the sides.  Sometimes hung with no frame at all or with using a Canvas Floater Frame.


A Rigid backing material made from harden polystyrene and wood fiber veneer and is used to back pieces of artwork like Foamcore.


A high quality fine art print created with an inkjet printer.


A type of glazing used in for framing.


A generic term used for glass and acrylic that covers and protects the artwork inside a frame.

Hanging Kit or Hardware

Contains all items necessary to hang an assembled picture frame.  For wood frames the items would consist of Wire, screw eyes or d-rings, screws, and wall bumpers.  Metal frames use a specialty hanger that runs along the inner channel of the frame but includes all the other items.


Artwork is secured to a backboard using a T-Hinge by placing strips along the top of the artwork with some of that adhesive strip left hanging out past the top.  We then lay the art down on a backboard and secure it in place by placing another adhesive strip onto the pieces left out past the artwork.

Landscape Orientation

A layout that is wider than it is tall.

Mat Board

A material usually made of paper that covers and protects the image.  A mat board will have a hole cut, known as the revel window, that will showcase the art while keeping the glass from touching the artwork itself.  Mats come in hundreds of colors, styles, and textures that not only protect your work but enhance its design and look.


The material, either wood or metal, that the picture frame is made of.  Like matting, Moulding comes in hundreds of styles and colors all for the purpose of enhancing the artwork.


The act of attaching artwork to the matboard, mounting board, or display board.

Multi Opening Mat

A mat board with more than one window opening.  Multi opening mat boards are often used for photo collage projects.

Museum Glazing

Refers to a type of coating that has been placed on the glass that reduces the glare on a piece of artwork significantly without compromising the look of the piece, unlike non-glare.


Refers to a piece of glazing with a matte finished etched into one side.  This reduces glare from lighting but can cause a slight loss of sharpness.  When placing into a frame make sure the etched side is facing away from the artwork.


Used when talking about how much of the artwork will be covered by the mat board.  The standard overlap for this between 1/8” and 1/4”.


Referring to the thickness of mat board.  Matboards come in 2-ply, 4 -ply, 6-ply and 8-ply.  4-ply is a the standard thickness and is usually around 1/16” thick overall.


The metal tabs used to hold the mat, mount board, and or glazing inside of the wooden picture frames.  Rigid points firmly hold a piece in place and are not meant to be removed.  Flexible tabs bend allowing the artwork to be removed and then placed back inside, popular for people who change out photographs and other such items.

Portrait Orientation

A layout that is taller than it is wide.


Used to describe the picture moulding when viewed from the end.  This includes the mouldings height, width, contour, and rabbet.


Inner lip or groove of a picture frame which holds the frames components like the glazing, artwork, and backing.  A rabbets depth determines how much room you have for components inside.


A term to describe the small bottom or middle mat border left visible in a double or triple mat.

Reverse Bevel

It’s when you cut the bevel in reverse, hiding the beveled edge under the matting.  This leaves a straight edge along the artwork.

Sawtooth Hangers

Small metal bar with serrations that are used in place of a hanging wire.  These are usually best for lighter weight pictures.

Screw Eyes

Screws with a loop at the end.  These are used on light weight narrow frames to attach a hanging wire.

Shadow Box

A deep frame with Glazing used to display items like medals, clothing, and sports memorabilia.


These are used to hold artwork away from the glazing.  These sit under the lip of the frame inside the rabbet and are usually hidden from view.

Stretched Canvas

A canvas that has been mounted onto a stretcher bar.

Stretcher Bar

Wooden support frame usually used for canvas to be stretched onto.  They come in a variety of widths and thicknesses to accommodate almost any canvas.

Security Hangers

Hanging system used to secure pieces to a wall with a special tool that keeps it from being removed easily.  Two hangers hold the image on the wall while a third hanger with a special screw is on the bottom edge.  With the tool you rotate the screw locking the picture in place.


A specialty cut into the top layer of a mat.  This is a decorative cut used only to enhance the artwork.  A thin line is carved out around the window cut into the mat exposing the inner core.

Wall Buddies

Used for large wood or metal frames where a wire wouldn’t be suitable, wall buddies are placed in the top corners of a frame.  They look like angled sawtooth hangers and essentially function the same way but can hold much heavy weight frames as they’re secured in several places with screws rather than thin nails.

Wall Bumpers

Small felt covered or rubbery plastic adhesive backed disks that provide a cushion between your frame and the wall.  They also help a picture to hang flat against the wall.


The window is the opening in a mat board thru which the image can be seen.


This long metal strip consists of two parts.  One part that is attached to the wall and the other attached along the top edge of a frame.  These two pieces interlock to hang heavy long objects on walls.